Corvallis Fire Chief Dan Campbell has announced his resignation.
Campbell, who has held the top job for five years, has accepted a position as deputy chief of the Apache Junction Fire District in Arizona, located on the eastern rim of the Phoenix metropolitan area. He starts March 5.
Campbell, 49, describes the move as bittersweet.
Campbell grew up in Corvallis, attending junior high and high school. He joined the Corvallis Fire Department as a firefighter in 1990. He left in 1995 for a position in Monmouth, and then came back to Corvallis after five years. He became assistant fire chief/fire marshal and was later tapped for fire chief in 2002.
He said the job in Arizona comes at the right time and the right place and that he looks forward to lots of sunny days in Arizona, but will miss the people he came to know in Corvallis and the mid-valley. He and his wife, Ann, of 30 years, travel to Arizona a couple times a year.
"But we also leave behind a bunch of friends we spent the better part of our life with," he said.
In his new position in Arizona, Campbell will be groomed to take over as fire chief of the Apache Junction Fire District, a position he will move into once the current chief retires in October 2007. The Apache Junction Fire District is comprised of a 10 percent larger force than the Corvallis Fire Department, and in the next two years plans to build two new stations. The district is overseen by a five-member elected board that solely deals with the fire district.
Campbell will start off at $100,000 in Arizona, with a 5 percent step boost after six months. He currently makes $105,984.
While fire chief, Campbell saw through to completion the construction of Fire Station No. 5 on Northwest Fair Oaks Drive. He also oversaw a period of growth and change in staff. Following a number of retirements, the department filled 28 positions, nine of which were new.
"We have had great hires," he said.
The department is also the largest municipal department in Oregon to maintain both volunteers and paid staff, and Campbell is proud of the educational tools the department has provided.
"A number of people have used us as a stepping stone," he said, explaining how the department has trained a number of volunteers for future careers.
"Corvallis has put people all over Oregon and other states," Campbell said.
During his watch, the department also brought in $15,000 in grants for thermal imaging cameras, a $100,000 grant for a prevention trailer, and with the help of a $200,000 grant, updated the radio infrastructure for better rural coverage.
Campbell described the people he has worked with as "top-notch," and said they stepped up to the plate after having to take on extra tasks after budget cuts eliminated the assistant fire chief position in 2003.
Challenges remain for the department, though, explained Campbell, listing around $1.5 million that will be needed in the near future to replace an aging 1982 ladder truck, two ambulances and one engine. A new training center will also need to be funded if the wastewater treatment master plan calls for the removal of the old training structure located on the treatment plant grounds.
A telecommunications tax, known as the "cell phone tax," was soundly defeated by Corvallis voters in a special election last September. The tax would have paid for fire department equipment.
"The cell phone tax was misunderstood by a lot of people on how it was going to be spent," Campbell said. "There's a big concern for what happens in the future from a funding standpoint."
Campbell announced his resignation a week ago to City Manager Jon Nelson and publicly announced it earlier this week.
"Dan is a valuable member and will be missed," Nelson said, adding that discussions on who will serve as interim chief and the search for a new chief will start today.